Wilson Sossion, an ODM-nominated MP, has called for the abolition of boarding schools in order to put an end to student unrest.
According to the former secretary-general of the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut), the boarding school system is a burden on parents.
“Why are students not burning down classes or laboratories? The government should wake up and face the reality. Boarding systems are costing innocent parents a lot of money,” said Mr Sossion
Sossion says school unrest has been observed since 2008, and the government should not act as if it has just begun. He also accused the government of ignoring the situation.
The UDA affiliated MP expressed regret that the Claire Amollo report’s recommendations were “gathering dust,” and that it was time to put them into action.
“Boarding system should be removed and students allowed being day scholars so that we bring to an end the madness we are seeing now.”
He claims the report made a slew of recommendations that should have been implemented to put an end to school unrest.
The unrest has had an impact on 11 schools in Bomet and Kericho counties. Tenwek High School, the most recent in Bomet, was closed after a night of tension as students threatened to go on the rampage.
Chebunyo Boys High School, Koiwa Boys’, Chebunyo Boys’, and Mogor Secondary School are also affected.
Boarding Schools Are Overburdening Teachers
Early in September, the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) had urged the government to begin a gradual phase-out of boarding schools in order to reduce the workload on teachers.
The union has petitioned the Teacher Service Commission to address the issues, claiming that teachers in boarding schools are more burdened because they must simultaneously teach and parent their students.
According to KUPPET, the workload has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic where boarding school teachers have to put in more hours to ensure students make up for the time lost during school’s closure.
“So we are going to lobby the policymakers to ensure that most of our schools are day schools. We will find it unacceptable to give teachers a necessary workload as those who are now making sure that the students are made comfortable at school, they stay for long hours because they are looking at the boarding sectors which of course nobody recognizes and appreciates.” Said KUPPET Secretary General Akello Misori.
Speaking in Embu town during a meeting with the union delegates from upper and lower eastern regions Misori said teachers in boarding schools are more burdened as they have to play a double role of teaching and parenting
“Nobody seems to be talking about it currently but it is going to be an issue. Now what is going to happen and what has already happened is that we have 100 percent transition.” he said.
He added that those students who are in grade 7 and grade 8 are still very young to be subjected to staying away from their parents adding a lot of work to the teachers adding that children are also missing the comfort of their families and their siblings.
Magoha Rejects Immediate Closure Of Boarding Schools
In July, Education CS George Magoha rejected a proposal for the immediate closing of 4,000 boarding schools. He maintained that every situation concerning boarding schools would be viewed on its merit.
“There is no plan to abolish them, but there is thinking in that direction. There has to be a gradual process. Maybe new start-ups (schools) will be day schools,” said Magoha.
Magoha said it will be impossible to abolish the schools at a go, but promised to adopt a policy that will see new learners enrolled in day schools.
The abolishment of boarding schools will ultimately see an increase in the number of day schools in the country if the government heeds to the call of KUPPET.
Some Education stakeholders consider the abolition of boarding institutions as a measure of ending school unrest.
“It has never been a policy to abolish boarding schools. It is not an issue to bother at the moment.” Said the CS during a workshop for education officials in Mombasa earlier in July.
The Competency-based Curriculum (CBC) task force by the Magoha proposed the scrapping off in primary and proposed junior secondary schools (JSS) under the new 2-6-3-3-3 education system.
The stakeholders behind the move claimed that the proposal will reduce unnecessary expenses and make learning more affordable for parents and guardians.
Kuppet SG says phasing out of
Kuppet SG says phasing out of boarding schools should begin before 2023 when there will be double transitions from primary to secondary schools.
“Because something here which nobody wants to address is that by the year 2023 we shall be having two sets of those transitions. Those who are having transiting from grade six to grade seven joining junior secondary, and those who will be going to form one in the current system.” Said Misori.
The Competency-based Curriculum (CBC) also proposed the scrapping of the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination after the 6th year.
Alternatively, the task force suggested that the exams be done after the first of the end of junior secondary. The assessment will then assist in placing learners in various senior secondary schools.
From that point, another examination will be taken at the end of the senior secondary which will help place the students in tertiary institutions.
Under the CBC, pupils are expected to spend 2 years in pre-primary, 6 years in primary, 3 years in junior secondary and another three in senior secondary school.
The Ministry of Education’s new education system mandates a 17-year school stay, as opposed to the previous 8-4-4 system, which totalled 16 years.
The main difference between the old 8-4-4 system and the new CBC system is that the number of years students spend in school is being restructured to 2-6-3-3-3.
All students complete two years of Pre-Primary, six years of Primary, and three years of Junior School. If you pass the Grade 9 exams at the end of Junior School at the age of 15, you can continue on to Senior School for three years.
Under CBC, the university will be three years instead of four.